Updated EU rules for personal protective equipment (such as life jackets or bicycle helmets), gas appliances (such as portable cookers or boilers) and cableway installations (such as funiculars or aerial tramways) were approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday. The three regulations, already informally agreed with the EU Council of Ministers, lay down common rules aimed at better protecting its users whilst reducing red tape for its makers.
The three pieces of legislation cover a significant part of the products circulating in the internal market and concern a vast range of products which millions of EU citizens use on a daily basis. The new rules aim to ensure that these products are safe for its users, while providing a clear legal framework for companies that meets their needs and allows them to be competitive.
Personal protective equipment
"In order to prevent fake, fraudulent or dangerous equipment from entering our markets, the European Union has had common standards on personal protective equipment for 25 years. This covers lifejackets, crash helmets and safety harnesses – sort of equipment that is used in many different workplaces (...) The technical changes in the report that we are discussing today will help simplify and modernise 25 years of legislation", said Vicky Ford (ECR, UK), rapporteur on personal protective equipment, in the plenary debate on Tuesday night.
"Our European rules not only cover the responsibility of the manufacturers, but of importers and distributors too. They make it easier for our market surveillance authorities to track products that are found to be dangerous and to remove them from the market. Having a common standard in Europe can often help our manufacturers to secure sales in other parts of the globe, thus boosting our own trade", she added.
Merely “decorative” oven gloves will be excluded from the scope of the personal protective equipment regulation, as will dishwashing gloves and umbrellas. "New laws should be based on a clear analysis of the costs and benefits. There was no impact assessment to justify this increase in the scope. Furthermore, I do not believe we need an EU-level agreement on what we wear in our homes to do the washing up (...) There will be no EU law on washing-up gloves", stressed Vicky Ford.
"For those of us across the EU who have turned on their gas fire tonight or cooked their dinner on a gas cooker this evening, this proposal will ensure that these day-to-day household products we all take for granted are safe, do what they say they will do, and can be bought or sold across the European Union", said Catherine Stihler (S&D, UK), rapporteur on appliances burning gaseous fuels.
When talking about health and safety, Ms Stihler highlighted the issue of carbon monoxide, often referred to as a silent killer: "I have insisted on certain references to carbon monoxide poisoning in this regulation, and I am happy to see this language reflected in the final text. However, not enough is being done by national governments and the EU (...) I hope that you will agree with me that it is essential to deal with the importance of gas safety and carbon monoxide and that we must take further action".
The gas appliances sector covers a wide range of products, from simple portable cookers to boilers in big buildings. The current EU stock of gas appliances is at 470 million and growing, with more than 30 million units being sold annually.
Around 17 500 cableway installations currently exist in Western Europe and the Alps, representing 60% of the global total. European industry has generally held a dominant position in the global cableway installations market, with the ski industry remaining the primary market for cableway technology.
The new regulation "will ensure that we have full harmonisation (...) It will set the conditions for subsystems and safety components for cableway installations to move freely around the European Union. (...) We have addressed member states' concerns regarding historic installations, which often have high interest for tourism", said Antonio López-Istúriz White (EPP, ES), rapporteur on cableway installations.
You will find more information in this press release: Internal Market MEPs strike a deal with Council on a set of product safety rules
The texts approved in plenary are available here:
Regulation on personal protective equipment - 606 votes in favour, 53 against and 50 abstentions
Regulation on appliances burning gaseous fuels - 629 votes in favour, 63 against and 16 abstentions
Regulation on cableway installations - 639 votes in favour, 69 against and 2 abstentions
Procedure: Co-decision (ordinary legislative procedure), first reading agreements